Das Keyboard HackShield Backpack

Amber Bouman, TechHive
11 November, 2013
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AAA

HackShield Backpack

Das Keyboard, ple.com.au

Pros 

Capable of carrying quite a bit; both physically and digitally thief proof

Cons 

It’s a pain to access anything you need from the bag

$219

Reviews

A streamlined design doesn’t keep this bag from carrying quite a bit – and it’s designed to keep thieves out. Likewise, the RFID-blocking pouches are a stroke of genius. We just wish the bag wasn’t so hard… It is probably not hard to guess that Das Keyboard is best known for making… keyboards (Yay! You get a cookie!), but the Austin, Texas-based company made a solid decision to expand its product offerings into high-quality bags via its HackShield line. The line – which includes a backpack, messenger and wallet — is not only cleanly designed and uber-efficient, but also distinguishes itself by incorporating several features that make the bags virtually thief-proof. The HackShield Backpack, which measures roughly 49.5cm tall x 35.6cm wide x 10cm deep and weighs roughly 1.43kg when empty, is constructed from weather-resistant 1680-denier ballistic nylon and waterproof polyurethane. The polyurethane on the front of the bag is soft-touch, which I personally am fond of, while the rear of the bag boasts red aeromesh padded shoulder straps and back cushions, which makes the bag a dream to carry. I actually kept forgetting I was carrying my laptop because the bag remained so light and comfortable. Other than the YKK zipper pulls and sliders (secured and hidden by a magnetic flap and a Fidlock buckle), that’s it. There is literally nothing else on the exterior of this bag — an intentional move by Das Keyboard as the lack of external zippers, pockets or pouches means there’s nothing available for a thief to put their sticky hands into.

The lack of external features also means the HackShield Backpack maintains some very clean and fluid lines; it’s a very smooth and chic design. The interior of the bag maintains this feel with a ripstop lining, 360-degree padding (double-padding along the bottom for drop protection), and a surplus of pockets. How many pockets is that exactly? Well, you’re looking at nine pouches of various sizes, one zippered pocket (with key hook), two pen slots and two RFID (radio-frequency identification)-blocking envelope-style sleeves for laptops, tablets and smartphones.

The Fidlock buckle uses magnets, and often closed on its own.

Das Keyboard, intent on having your back (hey-o), has not only made the HackShield Backpack difficult to physically steal from – it’s also impossible to digitally pickpocket from the backpack once you’ve placed your electronics inside the Velcro-sealed RFID-blocking envelope pockets. Even if they’re in sleep mode, some gadgets still ping your location or other data to update themselves. Not so when they’re living in the HackShield’s RFID pouches — the bag puts the kibosh on any data exchange, something we made sure to test on the vending machines in the TechHiveoffices. (Here it’s probably worth noting that nothing in the bag’s design can prevent a thief from simply picking it up and walking away with it, so you’re still on the hook for watching your bag when you’re not wearing it).

The ample aeromesh padding on the rear of the bag.

Using the HackShield started off on a good note. The bag effortlessly carried all my day-to-day gadgets and items, including laptops, chargers and boxes of product that I was testing. It also expanded a surprising amount to carry a box of Pop Tarts, a salad from Trader Joe’s and a package of frozen pasta. The pockets handled all of my smaller items like smartphones, business cards or USB thumb drives, and I felt like I had a sufficient amount of padding for my laptop. The downside? While the HackShield is damn near impossible for a thief to break into, those same features also make it damn near impossible for you to get into it. Which meant that every time I needed a bus pass, or my headphones, or $4 for coffee, I had to take off the bag, struggle with the Fidlock, flip back the magnetic flap over the zipper, then unzip the whole bag to rummage around inside it. This…. became pretty irritating after a week or so of carrying the bag and I found myself stuffing my pockets with items to avoid having to open it up.

I kept trying to think of scenarios in which the HackShield would be an ideal carry: a crowded tradeshow floor? Sure, but even then I often need to locate a pen, or a camera, or a business card. While travelling? It’s true, I did feel phenomenally secure while carrying this bag on the bus, safe in the knowledge that no one could get inside it. If you can think of enough instances where you need ultimate protection – and don’t need to frequently access the items actually in your bag — then the HackShield is well worth the price tag. by Amber Bouman, TechHive

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